Published on October 1st, 2014 by Alan L Sklover
“It is not enough to aim. You must hit.”
– Italian Proverb
ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: “This year, I absolutely must get what I’m due,” Delia told me, with a strong emphasis on the word “must.” “For the last three years, my bonus was less than half of what I should have received. And elevation to Partner better happen soon, too.” It didn’t take Delia long to tell me the point of her coming in; it was just the first minute or two of her initial consultation. She had come to us for help in getting ready to make a demand – in fact, an angry, non-negotiable demand – to her firm’s Managing Director who oversaw her work.
For five years, Delia had been Vice President at a middle-market investment bank that specialized in “TMT,” industry shorthand for technology, media and telecom. Though she’d located, initiated and nurtured several significant and successful investment banking deals for her firm, which had brought the firm several million dollars in fees, she was concerned that this year, like every other year before it, she wouldn’t receive what she was due: the bonus and the promotion she deserved. She even kept muttering something about “a big lawsuit,” which I ignored for the moment.
After talking Delia down from her angry perch, it didn’t take too long to figure out what her problem was, and what the best solution to her problem would be.
The problem was that Delia had the strange idea and the unreasonable expectation that her good work, her achievements, and her successes were all certainly known, and taken into account, by her firm’s Managing Directors. She operated on the strange and mistaken notion that “they all must have known” what she did each year. Even stranger, she didn’t consider that anyone might, for example, take credit for her achievements, or even try to steal from her the rewards and recognition that should follow her achievements. All she knew was “I’ve been cheated.” She had an awfully difficult time accepting the fact that she was contributing to the problem.
The solution we suggested was to create an “achievement scorecard,” a list of the significant achievements over the first eight months of the year, and the expected achievements for the remaining months of the year, and to make sure the “decision makers” knew of them prior to their annual deliberations regarding bonuses and promotions. Fortunately, Delia came to us in September, just the right time in the yearly annual cycle of business to create an “achievement scorecard.” Just as snow shovels go on sale in November, “achievement scorecards” should be created in August, for presentation to bosses in September and October.
At first, Delia was resistant to the idea. She firmly believed that “self-promotion” shouldn’t be necessary if “they were doing their job.” We countered that “if she was doing her job . . . for herself . . . this wouldn’t be a problem. The irony was that Delia’s greatest investment banking skills were in the presentation, promotion and sale of companies to prospective buyers and their finance-partners. Said differently, Delia was very good at explaining to highly sophisticated businesspeople the potential value of investing in an enterprise; though they were knowledgeable and experienced, the “sale” still required some degree of orderly, convincing presentation. This was exactly what she had to do now, for herself, in a context that wasn’t within her comfort zone.
Delia spent a few hours organizing her thoughts about her year-to-date accomplishments, as well as her objectives for the next four months. She also spent some of her time thinking about who should be her “target audience” (a phrase often used in the world of media), that is, to which Managing Directors would she make her presentation in the next month or two. She actually started to enjoy this new “project,” and as her new focus came into being, her inchoate, diffuse anger soon dissipated. It was, as we sometimes say, a transition from “a tea kettle to a turbine.” She almost couldn’t wait to get back to work in September, to make her “pitch.”
LESSON TO LEARN: No one will keep better score of your achievements, and your entitlement to further rewards, authority and job security than you will. And no one will make a stronger case than you will that you should get what you have earned.
These days, as companies get larger and larger, and as competition intensifies for limited resources within every department, division and company, others may “toot” their own horn just a bit louder, a bit sweeter, and to more receptive “ears” than you do, and thus gain credit and rewards that you deserve. You can almost count on that happening to you, if you let it happen.
September is the ideal month to take stock of what you have done, what you are doing, and what you expect to get done, this year. It falls two-thirds into the calendar year, and is a customarily slow period for most companies.
As discussions on year-end bonuses, raises, promotions, and even stock option grants begin to take shape in September and October, this is the time to create your “Achievement Scorecard,” and plan its presentation, in writing, to your own “decision makers.” This gives them the opportunity to consider your scorecard, share it and your requests with other decision makers, and to suggest to you additional accomplishments to focus on at year end.
SkloverWorkingWisdom™ encourages you to create a “perception of value” to a “person or pocket of power or profit.” In different words, it is to promote your achievements to those who will decide your bonus and promotions, in just a few months.
If you don’t make the pitch, no one will.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Sometime this month, take time to review your achievements over the past eight months, the next four months, and consider, too, the rewards, risk-limiters, the roles and the responsibilities you believe you’ve earned. Consider, also, who the decision-makers are to whom you need to show how valuable you are.
If you would like to obtain a “model” memo for setting your “bonus expectations” with your boss [click here].
Proper presentation of your “achievement scorecard” to your decision-maker will entail preparation, practice and clear projection, to take place in September or October, for maximum effectiveness.
There simply is no alternative to taking a step back, and planning the steps you’ll need to take to get yourself what you seek to gain in your career. Doing so will likely prevent the kind of loss, disappointment and anger that derail many people who fail to be proactive in this way.
SkloverWorkingWisdom™ emphasizes smart negotiating – and navigating – for yourself at work. Avoiding unnecessary risks to your job, your finances and your reputation, is essential. But it takes more than luck to make that happen. It takes forethought, care and prudence, the essential ingredients in good negotiating.
Always be proactive. Always be creative. Always be persistent. And always do what you can to achieve for yourself, your family, and your career. Take all available steps to increase and secure employment “reward” and eliminate or reduce employment “risk.” That’s what SkloverWorkingWisdom™ is all about.
A note about our Actual Case Histories: In order to preserve client confidences, and protect client identities, we alter certain facts, including the name, age, gender, position, date, geographical location, and industry of our clients. The essential facts, the point illustrated and the lesson to be learned, remain actual.